Nightmare Fuel / The Beach Boys

Surfer Girl
  • "In My Room" is about Brian hiding from abuse and the pressures of fame. Knowing what we know now about what Murry Wilson and Mike Love did to him, the pressure Capitol and the band members put on him, and his subsequent mental issues, it's a tragic piece of music. It remains beautiful, however.

Pet Sounds
  • The intro to "Wouldn't It Be Nice?" can be this for some. The carnival-like melody being played sounds just a

  • "The Old Master Painter" track begins with a brief string rendition of the aforementioned and then progresses to a haunting version of "You Are My Sunshine", which has its lyrics put to past tense (eg. "You were my sunshine...") and make it appear as a melancholic song about a person suffering from a heartbreak. It does not help that Dennis Wilson's vocals have been altered to have an echoey timbre. The song ends on a long descending note played on violins, as if it's meant to project the idea that the singer had either lost his mind or apparently committed suicide.
  • The instrumental outtake, "Look", opens with a stark and moody piano chord progression.
  • "OVER AND OVER..."
  • The original ending to "Surf's Up". Wordless vocals continue to go on until the song gradually fades.
  • A very notorious example would be the Fire section of The Elements Suite. While the piece was supposed to convey the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Brian Wilson channeled the experience of his second LSD trip (wherein he experienced ego death and saw himself burning within the fires of hell) as the musical bedding for his composition. Roughly three minutes of this is purely screeching violins, organ jabs, and ominous timpani strikings amidst the array of chaotic sound effects. Probing deeper in to the music and you get a portrait of Wilson's deteriorating mental state at that time - he had studio musicians wear firemen hats while performing, even encouraging the engineer to throw piles of wood in a trash bin and burn them during the session. If that is disturbing enough, what is more disturbing is the aftermath of the recording itself. Unbeknownst to Wilson, at the time he was working on the Fire section, parts of neighboring Santa Monica were engulfed in flames. Once word got to him, he was so convinced that his music unleashed "bad vibrations", that he immediately halted work on this song. Eerie.
    • While on this subject, the second disc of the Good Vibrations box set features what is ostensibly a small snippet of "Heroes and Villains"... then wham! Out of nowhere, it's "Fire"! And what's worse, it remains unknown whether this was a printing mistake, or some sort of creepy mind game...
  • The repetitive "Heroes and Villains" harpsichord motif. An massive Ear Worm teetering uncomfortably on the edge between beauty and horror, it's been known to induce wildly different reactions to whomever is exposed to it. What's more, if you're listening to Smile for the first time, after hearing the first side you might expect it to appear out of nowhere at any time.
    • Around the time of its release in 2011, The Smile Sessions had an official sub-site as part of The Beach Boys' official website. The first thing you were greeted with when opening it? The "Heroes and Villains" riff (in its even darker outtake form, even), juxtaposed with the otherwise happy and cheerful album art, modified with some Uncanny Valley animation.

Smiley Smile
  • Smiley Smile, the album we got instead of Smile, was no picnic either. In fact, most consider it to be even more creepy and nightmarish. A minimalist, quirky, and intimate production, it's been likened to being stuck in a small room with some imaginative, if harmless, manics for thirty minutes. It even manages to make some of the Smile songs that were relatively innocuous dark and creepy...
    • The revamped "Heroes and Villains" that was finally issued as a single on July 1967 is the track that opens this record. The song starts on a rather lighthearted manner, with first two verses being a bouncy ode to the Old West; its tone reminiscent of the good clean fun typical of early Beach Boys songs, and its surging rhythm evoking the dynamics of "Good Vibrations". It seems like a song full of groundbreaking promise: an attempt to surpass "Good Vibrations" as pop music's greatest achievement as planned; enticing us to eagerly anticipate what surprises Brian Wilson has in store for us. Only to fade out. And then... without warning, the CHORUS JUMPS AT US. But unlike earlier, we are subjected to a chorus so sad, so melancholic, it comes off as jarring. "Heroes and villains... just see what you done....," the Boys lament. They chant not once, but twice, and we are left with a sense of despair and helplessness. What did these heroes and villains do? And then it hits you, Are *we* the heroes and villains of the title? "Na na na naaa na...," they sing with unnervingly childish inflection as though they are taunting us for our actions. And as we begin to contemplate over our enforced guilt, the song JUMPS AGAIN to the bouncy verse. There's a slow rendition of the verse that follows it, and the music box-like instrumentation gives it a gentle feel at first. However, it then descends into disturbing territory, as the barbershop-style vocalizations become more ominous. Just before it could become creepy, it abruptly halts. Fading in is a soothing a capella reprise of the first verse. The sound quality is significantly different this time around, being of low fidelity. The hisses from the background are so dissonant on a sonic level, the idea that it could be a cult recording from a dark basement is not far off. And before the last couplet "I'm fit with the stuff to ride in the rough / and sunny down snuff, I'm all right by the heroes and villains" could be completed, it CUTS RIGHT OFF TO CHORUS for a second time and fading out to uncertainty. It's as though Brian gave up on the whole thing.
    • "Fall Breaks and Back to Winter (W. Woodpecker Symphony)" is a strange, repetitive little soundscape that's quite gloomy and sinister on its own accord... and that's without knowing of its origins as the above-mentioned "Fire". Whatever those strange noises heard throughout the song are, they are surely not human...
    • "With Me Tonight" has an unsettlingly creepy organ undercurrent running through the entire song. It doesn't help that the organ begins right after an unidentified dark voice says "GOOD" (some have theorized it to be an archival recording of Murry Wilson, which does not help things). And then there's the song itself, which, what with its repetitiveness of variations of "you're with me tonight," borders on creepy obsession.
    • "Wind Chimes". It's unsettling enough that the song has a calm yet dark vibe, then once the last verse is about to end, there is a dissonant, unidentifiable noise that blares out of nowhere. Could count as a middle note nightmare. And the next section alternates between a heavenly falsetto and a dark bass that keeps on getting darker in pitch for every line...
    • "Wonderful", in its sparse arrangement of piano and sustained organ, benefits from a sinister vocal turn by Carl Wilson (transforming what was a song about losing consensual innocence feel like a song about being an unsuspecting target of prowling rapist, making it all the more creepy). The seemingly-jovial interlude is dissonant at first, but makes a lot of sense when put to context, heightening the listener's fears. The mood is somber and gloomy, resembling a funeral dirge - as though we are mourning for the untimely demise of the poor girl's virginity. Not something to smile about.
    • "Whistle In" is a repetitive koan-like song that never resolves itself... it just goes on, and on, and on, and on about the importance of remembering the day and remembering the night, all night along... and then, nothing. What makes this worse is knowing about Brian's tendencies towards obsession with repetitive song ideas. It's a glimpse into his mind, people.

  • "I Went to Sleep" is quite evidently the product of someone with mental issues, and as Brian's only new contribution to the album (his other contributions were old outtakes), it shows what state of mind he was in at the time.
  • The fact that "Never Learn Not to Love" is a revised cover of a song written by a would-be murderer is already uncomfortable to start with.

Surf's Up
  • The cover art of Surf's Up, our page image. If you just glanced over it without seeing the title plaque, chances are your immediate assumption would be that this is some freakin' heavy metal right here. And without having heard the songs themselves, titles like "Don't Go Near the Water" and "'Til I Die" just sound creepy and ominous.
  • "'Til I Die" immediately begins with a droning synthesizer chord progression that plays throughout the whole song. The song's themes of despair, anguish, and (of course) death further brings chills down the listener's spine.

  • "My Solution," a Landlocked outtake. Nonsensical, drug-addled spoken word soliloquy about some kind of mad doctor(?) featuring dark, eerie synths equals some creepy shivers, for sure.note 
  • The Good Vibrations box set includes the Adult/Child outtake "It's Over Now". Problem is, due to some sort of error, the speed and thus pitch has been lowered, rendering Carl's voice unfamiliar and difficult to place. So now, out of nowhere you have this voice you don't entirely recognize singing this hopeless, bleak song about what sounds like the worst break-up ever... shades of blue and purple aren't gonna be the only things haunting you!
  • This picture. Brian's looking RIGHT INTO YOUR SOUL.